The perils of politically-correct capitalism 1

By Tom Quiner

A couple of weeks ago, Washington Redskin Quarterback, Donovan McNabb, was benched with two minutes left in the game.

If you’re not a football fan, stick with me. There’s a connection to this event and a larger American issue.

There were rumblings that Redskin coach, Mike Shanahan, was racist for benching the African-American McNabb.  I think not.

The National Football League (NFL) cares about one thing:  money.  The teams themselves, their coaches, their players, and their front offices care about two things: winning and money. I think winning even trumps money at the individual level in a professional sport like football where most of the players are already earning in excess of a million dollars a year.

The NFL believes in capitalism. They will pay more money to athletes who are the best to help them win more games.  It doesn’t matter if they’re white, black, purple, straight, or communists, they will pay you a ton of money if you can help them win more games and make the playoffs.

In other words, the NFL believes in equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome (redistribution).

Ultimately, it comes to this: the NFL makes economic decisions based on merit.

I refer to the NFL in light of the sharp economic downturn that has afflicted America for a couple of years now.  There are many causes for the downturn. One of the causes is surely the impact of “politically-correct capitalism” on the mortgage industry, that is, the impact of economic decisions based on politics, not merit.

Community activist groups like ACORN successfully pressured Washington to relax “discriminatory” lending practices in the 1990s.  Our local paper, The Des Moines Register, ran dozens of stories in the 1980s about the practice of “redlining” where mortgage lenders would not lend money to people who lived in certain sections of town.

Lenders maintained they wouldn’t lend to people who were bad loan risks; activists claimed it was pure discrimination at work because so many of the folks not getting loans were bunched in the same neighborhoods.

So in 1992, new laws were passed directing new “affordable housing mandates” on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

When I purchased my first house in 1979, I had to have around 20 percent to put down on the house. According to the former Chief Credit Officer for Fannie Mae, Edward Pinto, HUD made it clear that more liberal lending policies were now required:

“Lending institutions, secondary market investors, mortgage insurers…..should work collaboratively to reduce homebuyer downpayment requirements.”

According to Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute, by 2008 …

“almost 50% of loans…were subprime…and two thirds of them were held by government agencies or firms required to buy them by government regulations.”

By 2006, 30 percent of homebuyers were putting no money down.

These lax lending standards were specifically targeted to assist the African-American community in purchasing homes.  I believe the intent was honorable. Easier access to mortgages would increase the percentage of home ownership in America, and there is pride in ownership.

In my own marketing business, we began developing more marketing materials for mortgage companies throughout the country who touted nothing-down mortgages. Many mortgage brokers told me they didn’t need any marketing, because they had a backlog of clients standing in line waiting to borrow money with little down and low interest rates.

Of course you know what happened. The industry collapsed like a house of cards. And the very people we tried to help, the African-American community, suffered the most.

As columnist Star Parker said in her column today:

“Black’s, whose home ownership rates skyrocketed during the government stoked boom, now have foreclosure rates twice that of whites. And, of course, black unemployment in this economic slowdown following the collapse is double that of whites.”

The desire to cheat the laws of supply and demand are irresistible. You know the mantra:

Let’s ratchet up the minimum wage and pay people what they need rather than what they’re worth.

Let’s liberalize lending laws and lend to people on the basis on what they desire rather than what they can afford.

It never works. As this blog has stated on more than one occasion, you end up hurting most the very people you’re trying to help the most.

What the politicians are really doing is making themselves feel good as they hurt good people through the mock benevolence of politically-correct capitalism.

The record speaks for itself. It’s time to take a lesson from the NFL. Let’s pay people what they’re worth. Let’s let people borrow money on their ability to repay.

Politically-correct capitalism has taken a deadly toll on America.


Why God allows war Reply

By Tom Quiner

On this Veteran’s Day, I pay tribute to all the men and women who have served this nation in the armed forces. Thousands and thousands have given their lives in the name of freedom.

We thank-you for your service to America.

A letter writer in the Des Moines Register gave voice to us all in her lament this morning:

” … I wish I could think as I did as a child that the human race is too civilized, too knowledgeable, too humane to solve its problems with war.”

The war to end all wars has never come.  Why?

Why does God allow war?

War’s very existence is proof to some that God doesn’t exist. And yet C.S. Lewis suggests that God allows war for a reason. Here is an excerpt from his story, The Screwtape Letters, where the demon, Screwtape, explains God’s logic:

“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s [God’s] motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”

In a world where forces are at work to redefine society’s virtues, courage remains an indisputable virtue. Our soldiers have gone into battle absolutely terrified at the thought of dying. Their legs shook. They vomited. Their heads pounded. And yet they stormed the beach in the face of enemy fire, in the face of probable death.

Mr. Lewis suggests that these examples of courage, that these examples of spilled blood, bear fruit by nourishing something absolutely essential to our humanity: courage.

We’re all tested in life. It takes courage at the “testing point” to do the right thing. You may be tested before this day is done. Remember the examples of our veterans who faced physical danger that most of us will never face.

We salute you. You gave your best to America.

You have made us better.


Norah Jones wrote a song, American Anthem, in tribute to our veterans, which you can hear above. Here are the lyrics:

American Anthem

All we’ve been given
By those who came before
The dream of a nation
Where freedom would endure
The work and prayers
Of centuries
Have brought us to this day

What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?
Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you

Each generation from the plains
To distant shore with the gifts
What they were given
Were determined
To leave more
Valiant battles fought together
acts of conscience fought alone
these are the seeds
From which America has grown

Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you

For those who think
They have nothing to share
Who fear in their hearts
There is no hero there
Know each quiet act
Of dignity is
That which fortifies
The soul of a nation
That never dies

Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you

Who is the greatest American composer? Reply

By Tom Quiner

Three of my favorite American composers are George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Duke Ellington.

Today on the classical radio, I listened to Aaron Copland’s great Rodeo Ballet. The Hoe Down movement is so utterly American, so exquisitely compelling, so deliciously seductive that I felt compelled to share it with Quiner’s Diners readers.

My wife and I attend a convention in Las Vegas every year. We frequently walk past the Bellagio to take in the fountains. Then we walk across the street to Paris and have dinner at Mon Ami Gabi’s on the patio so we can keep watching. Copland’s Hoe Down is my second favorite water ballet. Enjoy.

Who is the greatest composer? I vote for Gershwin, but Copland is in the top three.


November 9th, 1989 1

By Tom Quiner

Three giants of the 20th century collaborated  on a miracle, the fall of communism. Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan. Margaret Thatcher. They each shared a unique character quality: conviction. They didn’t follow the crowd, they led the world based on the courage of their conviction.

The Berlin Wall came down 21 years ago. Relive the sheer joy of this triumph of freedom and human dignity. Thanks to the Pope, Mr. Reagan, and Mrs. Thatcher for persevering in the face of overwhelming odds.

Why Republicans need to stand tall for the unborn now 1

By Tom Quiner

FACT #1: Last week’s election swung on economic issues.

FACT #2: Last week’s election also swung on concerns over runaway big government.

Wouldn’t you say those were two of the biggies?

So here is my question: were social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage issues? Of course they were, but not as big as the two above. I pose this question in light of a comment I read from the incoming Florida State Senate Leader Mike Haridopolos that appeared in the Florida Today newpaper:

“On supporting Nebraska-style abortion limits:  “If this bill is pursued by a member, it will be given the normal committee structure and it will have to work through it, and get an up or down vote.  But what I can promise you is that where my focus is and where Dean’s and Rick’s [Scott, new Governor of Florida] is, is on the economy.

Folks who have all kinds of social issues, can work through the process.  If you can get it through the process, you’ll get an up or down vote, I want us to make fact-based decisions.”

Translation: we’re not going out of our way for life issues.

Mr. Haridopolos may not speak for all Republicans. Nonetheless, I point out his comments in light of a comment from the pro-life activists group, the Susan B. Anthony list:

“The percentage of women in the House of Representatives who are pro-life increased by 60 percent while the percentage of women who are pro-choice decreased by 16 percent.”

Hmm … is there a trend here? The whole country is becoming more pro life day by day.

So, to my Republican friends and elected officials who are solidly pro-life, your belief in the sanctity of life leads to another fact:

FACT #3: The human fetus is a human being entitled to full human rights.

How could anything be more important than protecting human dignity? Do not brush this issue aside. Yes, taxes and government spending and the economy and health care are huge issues. But they’re not more important than an inalienable right to life, are they?

Let me leave you with an economic reason to pass legislation to protect the unborn. When social security was passed, we had about 30 taxpayers for every person receiving benefits. Today we have but three, and tomorrow we will have but two for every person receiving benefits. If we hadn’t aborted close to 40 million babies in the last 37 years, we wouldn’t have the social security crisis we have today because we’d have more people supporting the program.

In other words, America is paying an economic price for abandoning its foundational principal of a right to life.

Republicans, this is your opportunity to stand up for life. If you don’t, who will?